Who are the most famous Bangladeshi YouTubers? And how many of them have more than a million subscribers?
After years of hard work in content generation, shooting and rigorous video editing, only a handful of the local YouTubers have more than a million subscribers.
But scroll down Likee or TikTok sometimes; just for curiosity, you will find local content generators with as many as ten million fans. And it is not like they are producing any masterpiece.
Creating content on these short video platforms and streaming apps is easy – the videos are usually a few seconds in length, and no rigorous editing is required. The content creators dance to a Bangla or Hindi song for 30 seconds, mimic movie dialogues, or innovate cheesy dialogues on their own and upload the videos.
You will perhaps find most of these contents cringe-worthy, but they work just fine for these content creators and their millions of fans.
Recently, we came across one such Likee content. Unlike traditional dances to local songs, the content creator Marzia Mumu was dancing on a promotional song of a mobile brand. After a short performance, she asked her fans to spread a hashtag campaign for the mobile brand, to win mobile sets —15 seconds of dance performance followed by 15 seconds of promotional message. That's it.
Marzia Mumu has 3.57 million fans on Likee, and her contents have received a whopping 4.8 million likes. A BBA student at ULAB, Mumu told The Business Standard that she joined Likee in 2018. After her videos caught the attention of Likee officials, they enlisted her as an official video creator.
"I began earning around Tk20,000 a month shortly after I joined Likee. But as my followers increased, my earnings grew to as much as Tk50,000 a month. I have less than four million fans. There are bigger celebrities with more than ten million fans – Marzia Mimi, another local Likee star with 10M followers for an example – who earns as much as Tk2,00,000 a month," Mumu told The Business Standard.
Besides the videos and live sessions, Mumu makes decent money through promotional video offers from various brands.
Not everyone excited, but it's growth unstoppable
The rise of these short video platforms, however, does not elate everyone in Bangladesh. There is fierce criticism of the content produced on such platforms, and many have described them as cringeworthy, tasteless, meaningless and even brainless.
The criticisms of the TikTok app, for example, are not just a Bangladeshi thing. You must have already seen reports of how soldiers after the military coup in Myanmar spearheaded a misinformation campaign and threatened to shoot citizens. Yet, the app is taking a step too slow to ban such contents.
In Bangladesh, especially after the infamous fist-fights among the growing TikTok stars led to a few of them being arrested and their fancy haircuts removed by the police in recent years, people grew more sceptical of these apps and their rapidly growing influence on the future generation.
However, despite criticism, the TikTok app, for example, has been downloaded more than a billion times, and monthly active users of TikTok is around 689 million around the world. Only last December, the app was installed more than 56 million times all over the world.
Similarly, Likee, or Imo for that matter, have been downloaded over 500 million times globally, and their appeal has been ever-growing. Although there is no accurate data on how many of these downloads happened in Bangladesh, considering the local TikTok/Likee stars' fan base, these numbers should be huge in Bangladesh.
Besides, TikTok and Likee have also introduced chat/video streaming, where content creators have the scope of earning a decent amount of money.
They allow the content generators to create groups and perform various creative acts, where the audience rewards them with donations, and these short-video platforms pass them on to the content creators.
Every year, increasing numbers of people come to YouTube to launch their channel. But we know there is still a huge amount of people who find the bar for creation too high. That is why we are working on Shorts, our new short-form video tool that lets creators and artists shoot snappy videos with nothing but their mobile phones.
Gamification model to enthral the youngsters
We asked Junayed Mustafa, Director of HYPE Dhaka, a digital marketing agency, how these apps are attracting so much attention among young people.
"What they did is the gamification of live streaming. The Likee stars, for example, can come live in a competition where their respective followers can vote for them with stars, which can eventually be converted into cash," Mustafa said.
These apps compete with each other to get a bigger audience through various offers, said the HYPE director, adding that sometimes the apps boost the content creators' morale with a small number of fake fans. This aggressive approach creates enthusiasm among the youth and creates stars out of them.
He also added that the celebrities raised out of these apps are often invited to parties by fellow TikTokers to promote themselves. The race to influence sometimes leads to fights between various gangs.
YouTube also took note
The rising popularity of short contents has not escaped YouTube's attention. They confirmed in February that the arrival of its TikTok-inspired 'Shorts' feed and camera option is now a matter of time.
YouTube's chief product officer Neal Mohan wrote in a blog, "Every year, increasing numbers of people come to YouTube to launch their channel. But we know there is still a huge amount of people who find the bar for creation too high."
"That is why we are working on Shorts, our new short-form video tool that lets creators and artists shoot snappy videos with nothing but their mobile phones."
Did the advertisers notice the shift yet?
As inevitable the future may be, have the advertisers yet noticed the shift?
HYPE Dhaka's Junayed Mustafa says the shift has not yet created a buzz among the advertisers. This has been mostly because these platforms' advertising mechanism is not as open as YouTube and Google in Dhaka.
"TikTok advertising platform is not yet open in Bangladesh. At present, some are giving ads on TikTok through third parties. I assume by the middle to the end of this year, some of them will launch advertising in Bangladesh," he said.
Junayed believes the transformation is bound to happen in advertising soon because "the money will follow the crowd."